For the last few years, Netflix has been on top of the world of streaming services. With the deal they cut last year to stream new Disney movies, it looked like they were planning to keep it that way. Alas, the world is a fickle place and with their latest profit report Disney also announced a plan to pull their movies from Netflix–once that deal lapses in 2018–and start their own brand new streaming service in 2019. This news garnered mixed responses from Disney fans who’re perhaps reluctant to add another monthly subscription fee to their ever mounting bill. But with a catalog as wide and heavily protected as Disney, many of us had seen this coming. In fact, the company has already been beta-testing a streaming service outside of the U.S. for nearly two years. It’s called DisneyLife and it could likely tell us a lot about the future of Disney streaming.
What is DisneyLife?
Launched in November 2015, Disney’s first official streaming service offered U.K. fans unprecedented access to Disney’s extensive collection of content, covering not only their beloved animated movies but also masses of content from Disney’s TV channels, soundtracks, books, and classic cartoons–this may even be the perfect platform to host the reboot of Disney’s ’90s favorite Bug Juice.
Offering a seven-day free trial and (after originally costing £9.99/$12.97) now costing a mere £4.99/$6.48 a month, DisneyLife is cheaper than even Netflix’s lowest one device monthly rate. The app allows users to download and watch anything offline, as well as offering live streams of all of three channels under the Disney Channel banner. The app briefly launched in China but was discontinued after only five months in April 2016.
What does it include?
DisneyLife is honestly one of the most unique streaming services that we’ve ever come across. Its main draw is obviously Disney’s notoriously protected animated back catalog–you know, the one that they used to delay on VHS and only ever release in short bursts–and that even includes flicks that still haven’t been released on Blu-Ray! From Sleeping Beauty to The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin to Frozen, The Lion King to Beauty and the Beast… DisneyLife has them all. It also includes Pixar movies (more of which are coming down the pike!) and Marvel and Star Wars content (which are also making big waves in the realm of Disney Parks), putting this service above most others. But it’s the extras that makes DisneyLife stand out. Along with 400+ movies, the app also includes over 6,000 Disney songs, 4,000 Disney TV episodes, 250 books, how-to animation videos, and live streaming of all three Disney Channels. There’s really no other streaming service like it, especially not for the discerning Disney fan. Sadly, it’s still only available in the U.K.
What can it tell us about Disney’s newly announced streaming service?
DisneyLife has been referred to as a beta test, so it’s safe to say that they’ll take the lessons they’ve learnt from the app’s two year tenure and put them into action with the new service. Looking at the streaming services we already have, it’s unlikely that Disney will include such a huge amount of content at such a low price, probably dropping the books, music, and live streaming options. It’s far more likely that this service will still be at the higher end of the payment spectrum at around $9.99-12.99 a month. Disney CEO Bob Iger has confirmed that the service will offer a pay-to-view option on new content. We don’t know for sure what else it’ll include, but we can assume the biggest draw for fans will be the classic animated stuff–and perhaps the newly rebooted DuckTales series–so look out for that.
Iger also mentioned a focus on original programming and movies from the Disney Channel, which fits in with what we’ve seen from DisneyLife. Movies like Descendants take center stage on the existing app and have huge built in fan bases, so they’ll likely be a key component of the new service too. But what about Jedi and Avengers? Though DisneyLife includes Star Wars and Marvel content, it’s hard to imagine that the House of Mouse would withdraw all of those films and shows with such huge marketing potential from other platforms. The fact that DisneyLife includes that content makes it look likely that some of those blockbusters will make appearances in the future of Disney streaming, even if they’re added after the launch.
How do you feel about losing your Disney faves on Netflix? (Considering this news was announced in the same week that Netflix announced its new Millarworld experiment, this could be a bittersweet moment for subscribers.) Will you be subscribing to whatever service the Mouse House ends up offering? Are you just mad DisneyLife isn’t available in the rest of the world already? Let us know in the comments!